Cedar Rapids man's 'Wheel of Fortune' win includes $37,000, trip to Jamaica

Josh Hillman of Cedar Rapids was the big winner Wednesday night on NBC's #x201c;Wheel of Fortune.#x201d; Even though he
Josh Hillman of Cedar Rapids was the big winner Wednesday night on NBC’s “Wheel of Fortune.” Even though he couldn’t cash in during the Bonus Round, he walked away with $37,337, including a trip to Jamaica. (Carol Kaelson photo)

“This is a great place” was a prophetic first-puzzle win for Josh Hillman of Cedar Rapids on Wednesday night’s airing of “Wheel of Fortune.”

Describing himself as a freelance proofreader and bartender, the 2005 Kennedy High School valedictorian dominated the episode, winning $37,377 including cash and a trip to Jamaica.

“What a night for this young man,” host Pat Sajak said after Hillman solved the three contestants’ final puzzle, “chess board and chess pieces,” adding $3,800 to his total.

As the evening’s big winner, Hillman advanced to the Bonus Round, where cash prizes go upward of $37,000. He didn’t get to double his winnings, however. With just a couple of letters showing in the puzzle answer, he did come up with “happy,” but not “wife.”

Still, since he was hoping to win enough money to visit his friends abroad, his savvy playing — honed by years of watching the NBC game show with his grandma — will spin that dream into a reality.

Hillman isn’t the only Cedar Rapids area player to win on this month on the game show. Earlier this month, Steven Posey of Marion won $7,167 and a Panama Canal cruise.

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